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anyone take their kids out of school for a semester of travel??

anyone take their kids out of school for a semester of travel??

Dec 6th, 2011, 11:29 AM
  #1  
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anyone take their kids out of school for a semester of travel??

hi we are considering taking our kids out of school next year for the fall semester and traveling europe.... anyone else done this?? they go to a high end private school and in the tuition alone we could pay for a couple of months travel!.... I don't know if the school will cooperate or take them back for the second semester or if we will need to enroll them in public school for the winter semester or if we should home school them for the entire year... etc... just putting this out there and seeing if anyone has any experience or advice on the subject.... thanks... oh and they will be going into 6th and 3rd grades.... they are both top in their classes and are excited about the opportunity.... though they do actually enjoy attending school and I hope the private school will go for 1/2 year tuition, readmission and letting us know the curriculm we should be teaching them while we are away...
oztravelz is offline  
Dec 6th, 2011, 11:49 AM
  #2  
 
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There is no shortage of people blogging about doing even longer family trips. Just do a google search and you will find many blogs like these ones:

http://away-together.com/about/
http://canadiancarlsons.com/users/sarahjames/
http://www.momlogic.com/2009/06/off_...mily_style.php
greg is offline  
Dec 6th, 2011, 12:07 PM
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I actually experienced such a trip with my parents and siblings way back in the dark ages (1972.) My father took a sabbatical and worked on a project that allowed him to travel throughout most of Europe. The project was really an excuse for the opportunity to travel and we had a wonderful adventure.
My sister and I were in high school and my brothers were in elementary school. Both schools allowed us to leave for a semester and we brought school books and lessons with us. Since my parents were both teachers they were able to convince the schools that we would continue our studies. I remember teaching myself Geometry through much of Europe and finishing my essay about "Jane Eyre" in Vienna. Also, since this trip was planned well in advance, we did complete quite a bit of school work before we left. I believe my parents did offer to pay tuition for the semester we would miss but I don't think either school accepted payment.
We were very fortunate that our schools recognized what a learning experience the trip would be, and it was! Home schooling is now much more common so I hope your children's' school will be accommodating.
Good luck with you plan, I hope it will be a success.
KTtravel is offline  
Dec 6th, 2011, 12:08 PM
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Oops, that should be "good luck with your plan."
KTtravel is offline  
Dec 6th, 2011, 12:08 PM
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It sounds like a great opportunity to me, but it seems that the biggest issue would be the school holding spots open for the kids while they are gone. I would be surprised if there wasn't a waiting list to get into the school, in which case the kids would probably lose their place. Check with the school, of course - they may be willing to work something out with you.

One thing you might consider - see if the school will entertain the idea of treating this trip as though your kids are on assignment - travelling journalists who report back to the class on a regular basis. Your kids could do articles, Podcasts, and videos about the places you are visiting - current events, history, OpEd pieces, interviews, etc. Your kids would learn a lot from the experience, and it could augment the curriculum in the classroom as well. It could be interactive - the kids in the class could give your kids assignments and the then your kids would report back. It could be a lot of fun if the school is interested.
november_moon is offline  
Dec 6th, 2011, 12:24 PM
  #6  
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wow this is very helpful!... we may take them out the whole year!.... at 20k each for private school.... plus all those afterschool programs... which probably brings it to around 50k for the two of them.... I think we can travel quite a bit and really enjoy some family bonding.... I know they will learn a lot.... the only true concern is that I don't want them to get behind.... thank you for these suggestions... best! oz
oztravelz is offline  
Dec 6th, 2011, 12:27 PM
  #7  
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november_moon, i love your journalist idea... that previous response was to greg who gave me so many links!... not to yours.... also KTtravel.... thank you for the encouragement that it was meaningful to you and yours.... I am getting really excited.... ok, planning.... thank you! oz
oztravelz is offline  
Dec 6th, 2011, 01:03 PM
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Discuss it! It's worth talking about, for sure.

I'm going to make a suggestion, though. If you're willing to consider it, do it for one full year or only do it the SECOND semester.

I had a nice long chit-chat with my kids' teachers when mine were around the same ages. They were very encouraging, and the school (ironically, a public one) was used to corporate families moving in from London and leaving for Paris, etc all the time.

They felt that the beginning of any school year was new for all the kids, even the ones who had stayed in place, so to speak, so an absence of one semester the previous winter/spring was not that big of a deal. Kids could have the summer to ease back into some old friendships. Returning for winter/spring semester, however, meant the kids had to fit into a social structure that would have closed ranks in many ways.

They were right--friends of theirs who spent fall abroad and then came back for winter/spring did have a tougher time of it than those who either left for winter/spring or missed the entire school year. That BFF thing doesn't always go as planned.

Am so excited for your planning.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Dec 6th, 2011, 01:55 PM
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Good point Alessandra about which semester to choose for the trip. That makes total sense.
november_moon is offline  
Dec 6th, 2011, 02:02 PM
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We've just taken our girls out of school for one term ie half a semester and have done trips before with our older children for a semester at a time and also homeschooled at times for longer periods up to 18 months.
Much depends on the school, we've had times when the school has not assisted with curriculum information but is willing to give us a semester free of charge and hold their positions for next year. This time they have asked for holding fees (but strangly have not charged us!) but also the individual teachers have given basic curriculum information that will be covered at school for the period (textbooks and chapters to cover, one even told me to lighten the luggage by tearing out sections that won't be needed!).
To be honest, IMHO if your children are self motivated or if your travelling style allows for plenty of sit down time where you can work with the children, you will probably do half of what you plan to cover education-wise. We had planned to use internet based maths (mathletics) as we do at home & they really enjoy, but haven't simply because our internet setup hasn't been reliable & is quite expensive. Also with our 'travelling style' (which is working out at about 3 or 4 days in each place), by the time we have explored our town and planned food etc we don't really have much time left to do the school work. We have decided to concentrate on maths, as that is the main area where missing a little bit will affect a lot later, and keeping a journal. The history, art, geography and culture that we see in our travels tops it off.
Having homeschooled, I think you need to work out your subject priorities so that if you are time restricted you can still cover the basics.Trying to cover a full curriculum if you are moving about a lot is very difficult. Having said all that, of my five children, one needed 6 individual maths tutor sessions to get back on track after being away for 12 months and apart from that, all have progressed well and fitted back into their previous school levels or better!
I hope your planning goes well and that you have a wonderful experience with your family, it's worth the work!
PS sorry this is so long!
thomo7 is offline  
Dec 6th, 2011, 02:06 PM
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Very good point, Alessandra. We also skipped the spring semester. By then we had a good rapport with our teachers and they knew what kind of students we were and what assignments made sense.

On a more practical note, filling your childrens' spaces in school would be easier for the school at the beginning of the school year rather than in the middle so they might be more willing to negotiate with you.
KTtravel is offline  
Dec 6th, 2011, 02:09 PM
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We're Americans who took our daughter out of school for her entire sixth grade year and traveled in Europe.

She attended a private, college prep school, and the first person we consulted about our idea was the director of her school. The school was extremely supportive and agreed to hold a place for her. Because our daughter was one of the most advanced students, we did not have to do any kind of homeschooling... she was basically permitted to skip a year of school.

We traveled in England, Scotland and France for the first three months of our trip (summer), mostly using vacation rentals for 1 and 2 weeks. But then we settled in Provence for 6-1/2 months, from the beginning of October until mid April, and our daughter did attend a French village school during that time. It was an incredible experience and of course the entire trip (14 months) was highly educational. After leaving Provence, we traveled in Italy, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, mostly stays of 1 week to 1 month in rentals. During our 14 months away, we also walked across England (192 miles) and did a 100 mile walk in the Swiss Alps.

I think it really depends on the child, however, I thought we picked the perfect time to do this. I would not have wanted to put her in a French "college" (middle school), much larger and more demanding than the village ecole elementaire, especially for a child who initially spoke only a little French. But as an 11 year old, she was old enough to appreciate what we were doing and to remember so much of it. The adjustment back to home wasn't too difficult. I think the social and academic adjustment would have been tougher later on. Some academic subjects could be missed that would really have an impact on future classes and perhaps impact college admissions.

I wish you all the best in pursuing your dream. It was lifechanging for our daughter and for us.

Kathy
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Dec 9th, 2011, 08:37 AM
  #13  
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Kathy, what a beautiful note... very inspiring.... my daughter is 11 and will be going into 6th grade next year, my son is going into 3rd and both of them are rated very highly academically, they are actually both "gifted" according to SCAT testing... I am a little concerned about talking to our school, but it seems that most of these replies say the schools are ussually very supportive, so this gives me hope. Was the french school a private or public school? I know in UK they use those terms the opposite of the US, I mean them as US terms, just for clarification. Both of our children study french at their current school, so that would be a great treat and I bet they would really learn a lot. Thank you again... Blessings, oz
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Dec 9th, 2011, 08:46 AM
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Thank you KT, Alessandro, and Thomo as well..... all very interesting and helpful information.... I feel we probably need to go in the fall however as part of this is that my parents are moving to Italy and I feel they need some assistance... still discussing it with my husband.... I am going to discuss it with the school when we come back from winter break.... I would love it if they were cooperative with curriculum so I don't have to deal with going on line and internet issues for homeschooling, etc... I agree math is the most important subject not to get behind on as well.... (not my strong suit though... so good thing its 3rd and 6th grade math!... I hope they will hold spots and give us a financial break... if not I will probably take them out the whole year and figure a way to home school when we get back or let them try out the public school in our area.... we shall see... thank you for sharing your experiences with me... oz
oztravelz is offline  
Dec 9th, 2011, 10:33 AM
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I agree with thomo7, you probably won't get as much schoolwork done as you anticipate. We moved from the US to Italy in January and so I homeschooled my daughter for the rest of the school year. We used the Calvert program (which I liked and you can access the lesson plans and some of the textbooks online) but I spent the majority of the day homeschooling. Also, not all of the textbooks are available online so I imagine it may not be easy carrying books for 2 children around. In my experience, free wifi is not available here in italy like it is in the US. I'm not sure about other European countries. But on the plus side, as my daughter's classmates in the US were studying ancient Rome, she was going to the Colosseum, Forum, etc. Hard to beat!
ciaojulie is offline  
Dec 9th, 2011, 12:26 PM
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Oztravelz, at one point we had considered homeschooling while we were away. But my husband and I thought that would just be too much family togetherness, and we wanted her to have an opportunity to meet other kids and make some friends. She went to the "government" elementary school in our village, three classrooms, two grades in each. The school operated four days a week, Wednesdays off. Some French schools have a half-day on Saturday, but our village parents had voted not to have Saturday sessions and to shorten some vacation periods. The school schedule gave us some time for family explorations, and our daughter even came home for lunch about two days a week-- something that would never happen here!

I think it was a bit terrifying for her at first, but it was such a small comfortable school and the other children welcomed her. And she quickly learned French. One highlight was going on a weeklong ski school in the French Alps with her class and learning how to ski for the first time-- in French.

There was another great benefit for our family. We were taking her back and forth to the village, sometimes twice a day, waiting outside the school with other parents at the end of the day. We ended up meeting others in the village and making connections we wouldn't have made if we had just stayed at our farmhouse homeschooling.

We did try for a few weeks to make Wednesday a homeschooling day (carried textbooks over with us), but it wasn't very successful and we eventually decided that we'd use Wednesdays for family day trips that were educational in a different way.

I know some people who have sent their children to private international schools on a year abroad like this, where the challenges of operating in a foreign language aren't so difficult. But this would limit you to larger towns and cities that have these types of schools. And those schools aren't free either!

Kathy
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Dec 9th, 2011, 03:15 PM
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well this is awesome news Kathy... there wasn't any issue with her being admitted to the school... wonder what it is like in Italy?? I know my husband would rather live in France, as would I, but since my parents are in Italy seems that may be a good idea to make it a home base for a bit.... do you mind letting me know which village you were in?? i am terrified of homeschooling as I my kids are both wonderful alone, but together it becomes challenging at times.... (sibling rivalry) and honestly I am not the best with schedules .... hmm... I really appreciate your input! thank you!
oztravelz is offline  
Dec 9th, 2011, 04:07 PM
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oz, I don't know if this will help but my parents laid down the law starting weeks before the trip about how we were going to have to be on our best behavior at all times, that this would be the experience of a lifetime, that we would have to do our schoolwork without complaining, etc. I remember that we were awfully well behaved most of the time on that trip (probably not perfect) and we grew much closer as a family.

We did have to be pretty good about sticking with a schedule but mostly did our work in the evenings 7 days a week (no TV and few distractions helped.) Much of our semester's schoolwork was spread out over the summer weeks as well which helped minimize the amount we had to do daily as we weren't required to turn a lot of it in until we returned. We did mail some work back to teachers that requested it and shipped a box of books back when we were done with them.

Won't your husband be with you? Perhaps he could help one child while you work with the other. However, if homeschooling seems like it will cause more troubles than it will solve perhaps some of the other alternatives make sense.
KTtravel is offline  
Dec 9th, 2011, 04:57 PM
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We didn't have a problem getting our daughter admitted to the school in our French village (Bonnieux, in the Luberon-- population of about 1400 people). But another American family with three kids arrived in the next village of Lacoste a few months later and weren't able to get their children into the smaller Lacoste school (two classrooms for six grades). So it may depend on capacity. As I recall, we only had to have documentation of her shots.

I kept a blog of our long trip at www.slowtrav.com/blog/kaydee. You might find some of the entries interesting.

You should visit the website www.expatsinitaly.com to ask about schools in Italy. This is a great resource for people who are planning to live in Italy.

Kathy
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Dec 9th, 2011, 05:05 PM
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I have a friend who took her son out of school for a whole year to travel in her motor home through all 50 states (well, they flew to AS and HI). She home schooled him during the trip. She said they had a great time and felt it was a fantastic experience for both of them.

I wish you well and an jealous of your children.
Randy is offline  

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